The grace of God—What is it?

The word translated "grace" in the New Testament comes from the Greek word charis, which means "favor, blessing, or kindness." We can all extend grace to others; but the grace of God has a much more powerful meaning. The grace of God is His choosing to bless and favor us rather than curse us as our sin deserves. It is His benevolence to the undeserving.

Grace began in the garden of Eden when God killed an animal to cover the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). Instead of destroying them for their disobedience, God displayed His grace to them. God's grace was evident throughout the Old Testament as He continually forgave the transgressions of Israel. Over and over, they turned away from the true God and worshipped idols. Over and over, He forgave them and restored His special relationship with them. The grace of God continued throughout the Old Testament when God instituted blood sacrifices as a means to atone for sinful men.

But the grace of God culminates in the New Testament with the coming of Jesus. "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). The law of Moses, perfect in itself, came from the justice and holiness of God, and was intended to convict men of sin. It was a law of judgment and condemnation, but it prepared the way for the grace of God to be shown through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The law condemns, but the grace of God saves. "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).

God shows both mercy and grace, but they are not the same. Mercy withholds a punishment we deserve; grace gives an undeserved blessing. God's mercy relieves us of the judgment we deserve; God's grace bestows on us the many blessings we inherit when we come to Christ: forgiveness (Hebrews 8:12; Ephesians 1:7), reconciliation (Colossians 1:19–20), abundant life (John 10:10), eternal treasure (Luke 12:33), His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), and a place in heaven with Him some day (John 3:16–18).

The grace of God is a gift of indescribable glory for which every believer should be eternally grateful. Without it, we would be lost forever. But by it, we receive blessings, honor, and joy.

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